Gospel of Thomas: Thomas 22
Control and Power
Thomas 22: Jesus saw some babies nursing. He said to his disciples, “These nursing babies are like those who enter the (Father’s) kingdom”
They said to him, “Then shall we enter the (Father’s) kingdom as babies?”
Jesus said to them, “When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom].”
Aspects of Thomas 22 relate to the work of Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), a well-published philosophical scholar. Although some of his works have been contentious, several of his theories are still worthy of our attention. Steiner saw a gap in the knowledge conventional science could attain. He practised something he called a science of the spirit, which drew on knowledge derived from a psychic memory of events long past. The gap can be identified in the following way: conventional science hypotheses that creation is a combination of chance and natural selection, but this thesis does not stand up to logic. Let us suppose that by chance chemicals were created and they combined to form a ‘primordial soup’ and, given the appropriate environment, life was created, in the form of single cell organisms. Science has not explained where the chemicals came from in the first instance and what made the chemicals combine to create an organism. Defining these events as chance would seem more remote when one considers the complexities of the human brain. What is thought; where does it start? Conventional science would refer to a series of complex neurological processes, involving chemicals and electrical impulses, but this does not explain their existence or their motivation to do what they do. Over the past seventy years, UFO/UAP researchers have concluded related phenomena can be both physical and non-physical – they can exist in the ephemeral spaces that we might define as consciousness. The spaces between the smallest particles technology can detect is the substance of the soul and consciousness. It is the influencing force on all things, It is the anatomy of God, the Source.
Steiner successfully demonstrates that there is indeed a gap in knowledge. In his book, ‘Cosmic Memory: Prehistory of Earth and Man’ (Steinerbooks, 1987), he describes the influences of the realm of the Father/Source (Steiner does not use the term ‘Father’ or ‘Source’) upon the creation of everything we know in this universe. Unfortunately, the Gospel of Thomas was discovered twenty years after Steiner’s death; it certainly would have been of immense interest and value to his work. Thomas 22 reflects much of what Steiner established before the discovery of the Gospel of Thomas. This demonstrates that he truly was linked to a psychic memory, which he admitted could not always be accurate, because of the foggy nature of this information. Steiner describes the process by which the sexes came about stating: ‘For only in the course of time did the forms of man and woman develop from older, basic forms in which human beings were neither the one nor the other, but rather were both at once. ’ Ibid p.84.
In Thomas 22, Yeshua tells us it is our perception of who we really are that needs to be transfigured, in order for us to enter the kingdom. This saying gives us the best indication of why Yeshua gave up His body to be destroyed by those people representing earthly power—the lion in Thomas 7. His sacrifice teaches us about the true nature of what we are and why our sins are negated—because we are above them. Emotions and desires driven by the physical world are the catalyst of sin.
For example, sexual desires have been an issue for many generations, particularly for those who share the Old Testament edicts. Masturbation was considered a sin because of morality narratives in the Old Testament. At the forefront is the story of Onan, a minor biblical character in Genesis 38:1-10. Onan made the decision not to impregnate his brother’s widow, spilling his seed on the ground. The story asserts that Onan died prematurely because of his actions. We know that these stories were designed to encourage the growth of populations within that culture, yet religious groups continue to use this narrative to cause people to accumulate guilt and shame. This guilt hinders the individual from understanding their true nature. This is what Thomas 22 seeks to dismiss from people’s minds—we are not bound by the needs and limitations of the flesh. Guilt gives the flesh power over the soul. It is a device used by the entities living in darkness, keeping souls tied to this realm. It is also the poverty blinding people from the wealth—what they are.
Perhaps the sin Onan brought upon his conscience was that he left his sister-in-law childless—according to the story, because the children would not be considered his. However, it is likely he did not want his children to have to split their inheritance with another half-sibling. Onan would have felt duty-bound to support this woman and child. Ironically, or perhaps predictably, people have looked to the physical act of spilling seed on the ground as the sin, rather than the act of pride and greed.
Thomas 22 alludes to a stripping of gender and, by association, sexuality too. In this realm, the procreation of life requires a male and female union of reproductive cells. This physical act, supposedly instigated by God, has caused significant damage to people who are born with desires for the same sex, or both. Since most of our understanding of the nature of God is dictated by what we can observe in this world, people have mistakenly come to the conclusion that it is the intention of God to have only heterosexual unions. All other unions must therefore be a sin or wrong. People chose to ignore that homosexual activity occurs in nature too; there are examples of animals of the same sex coupling. This is not a choice they have made.
Although a number of cultures have accepted homosexuality, at the early part of the twenty-first century, there are still places where groups actively discriminate against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex individuals. The people who vilify the LGBTQI community do not see that they damage their own potential to realise what they truly are, as is evident in Thomas 22. By hurting the soul of those whom they subordinate, they damage their own soul, for we are all connected. This is the tragedy of the generations that have been misled by people who are ruled by fear. Where there is fear, the Satan men have created thrives. The men who created such dogma and perpetuated it were in error. The religious leaders who continue to follow this path are, evidently, incapable of transfiguring their perceptions, away from their physical form.
The four Synoptic Gospels do not directly reference the moral question of homosexuality. However, we do see references appear in the New Testament, through the apostle Paul. The orthodoxy uses a section of Paul’s letters to the Romans to argue that Jesus disapproved of homosexuality. It is not the aim of 77th Pearl: The Perpetual Tree to erode the integrity of the Bible authors. However, it is necessary to analyse the context of the rhetoric we are presented with in these texts. Stepping back and looking at the big picture can be difficult, when we feel that it might denigrate the truth of something we want to be on a spiritual basis. This kind of objective analysis is necessary, particularly when we know that the text in question has caused harm to individuals or groups. To begin, let us look at what Romans 1:25-29 states:
‘…because they exchanged God’s truth for a lie and have worshipped and served the creature instead of the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen
That is why God abandoned them to degrading passions:
why their women have exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural practices; and the men, in a similar fashion, too, giving up normal relations with women, are consumed with passion for each other, men doing shameful things with men and receiving in themselves due reward for their perversion.
In other words, since they would not consent to acknowledge God, God abandoned them to their unacceptable thoughts and indecent behaviour.
And so now they are steeped in all sorts of injustice, rottenness, greed and malice; full of envy, murder, wrangling, treachery and spite.’
Paul was a Pharisee, initially a persecutor of those who believed in Jesus. Being a Pharisee, he would have also been a servant of the Jewish Law. Paul was not a direct apostle of Yeshua but became a champion of Jesus as the Saviour for the gentiles, by faith. Paul argues the stature of the gentiles through the grace (free, unmerited favour of God) Yeshua attained by His sacrifice. We should note that none of the New Testament was actually written by a direct apostle of Jesus. For example, Mark, an apostle of Peter, wrote the first gospel 70-90 years after Jesus’ death. Much of what we see in Paul’s letters is a theological struggle—how could he reconcile the Jewish Law for Jewish followers of Jesus and include the gentiles, who were outside of the Law (uncircumcised and unschooled in dietary practices and moral conduct). Galatians 2:21: ‘I am not setting aside God’s grace as of no value; it is merely that if saving justice comes through the Law, Christ died needlessly.’ And in Galatians 5:4: ‘once you seek to be reckoned as upright through the Law, then you have separated yourself from Christ, you have fallen away from grace.’
If we read Galatians 4:3, ‘…as long as we were still under age, we were enslaved to the elemental principles of this world’, we see how Paul deconstructs Jewish Law as a device which was ultimately created by ethereal beings, known as Stoicheia. This is a Greek term which can be interpreted as demonic angels or beings that control elements within the physical realm. Paul concludes that the Stoicheia were to blame for creating the Jewish Law, which he surmised heightened the effectiveness of sin. Galatians 3:10: ‘…all those who depend on the works of the Law are under a curse, since scripture says: Accursed be he who does not make what is written in the book of the Law effective, by putting it into practice.’ He comes to this conclusion by observing how the laws are associated with physical parameters, which are difficult to adhere to, all the while recognising the conundrum that all sin was forgiven through Yeshua’s sacrifice. Interestingly, the reference to malevolent spirit beings reflects the Gnostic thesis. This is evidence of how the gospel authors were influenced by Greek mythology. In Galatians 4:9 Paul reiterates: ‘whereas now that you have come to recognise God—or rather, be recognised by God—how can you now turn back again to those powerless and bankrupt elements whose slaves you now want to be all over again?’ It would seem that Paul did indeed familiarise himself with the Greek myths, probably to argue a position using concepts the Gentiles could understand. His discourse attempted to give the Gentiles a sense of importance, by suggesting that they are the chosen ones, just as much, if not more (in Galatians), than the Jewish people.
Paul affirms the Gentiles’ importance. He proposes that Sarah, Abraham’s very old wife, allegorically represents the mother of the lineage that would have claim over the other Jerusalem, which is not of this world (Galatians 4:21-27). In this way the servant of Abraham, Hagar, gave rise to the nation who claims Jerusalem on Earth—her child’s conception was purely physical. Since Sarah’s child was conceived in her old age, through God’s help, it follows that the Gentiles would be brought into grace through Jesus’ intervention in this world. Galatians 3:16-17:
‘Now the promises were addressed to Abraham and his progeny. The words were not and to his progenies in the plural, but in the singular; and to your progeny, which means Christ. What I am saying is this: once a will had been long ago ratified by God, the Law, coming four hundred and thirty years later, could not abolish it and so nullify its promise.’
Paul makes a strong case for the Gentiles being the chosen people (‘and to your progeny, which means Christ’), rather than the Jews, who saw themselves as the chosen progenies. He suggests that the promise was made for one, not many, by pointing out the use of the singular—progeny. Of course, most contemporary scholars accept that Jesus was not the lineage of David, because He was known as Jesus of Nazareth. It was the author of Luke who engineered the story of a census. The story sees Jesus born in Bethlehem, fulfilling the prophecy relating to His lineage. As mentioned previously, there is no evidence of such a census happening. The question arises: would it even be feasible for a heavily pregnant woman to travel such a distance on a donkey? These facts should not denigrate the importance of the man we know as Jesus/Yeshua. However, it does show us how the gospel authors tried to place Him into the Old Testament prophecies. Indeed, it was Yeshua Himself who used the prophecies to gather a following, but His definition of the Saviour was very different to that of His Jewish contemporaries.
The letters to the Galatians, by Paul, were an attempt to curb the influence of the Jewish apostles of Yeshua, who preached a Jewish form of Christianity. The Jewish followers of Yeshau would have suggested that one had to become Jewish, circumcised, and follow dietary and moral laws to be saved. In Galatians, Paul constructed a strong argument against this position. In doing so, Paul put himself in a position where the Jewish Christians started to resent him. Scholars have suggested that Paul, being aware of the negative feelings toward his discourse with the Galatians, turned his attention from Jerusalem to Rome. It is generally believed that the apostle Peter was not necessarily the instigator of the Christian movement in Rome, but that it started in small independent groups. It was these groups that Paul wanted to embrace, as they were gentiles and, at that point, were free of a patriarch. At the same time, Paul needed to demonstrate that he was not antinomian; therefore, we see him attempt to retract his erroneous rhetoric about the Law (Romans 3:30-31). This was achieved by restating the importance of the Jewish moral laws in the letters to the Romans. However, this is not what we see in Romans 1:25-29. Here, we see an opening observation about the people in Rome, who were not believers of Christ or of one God.
The Jewish Law had much to do with moral codes of conduct. Paul was seen to be arguing the Law created a place for sin to breed. For this reason, people were suggesting Paul was implying they should give in to sinful urges. This is evident in the text Romans 3:8: ‘…the slanderous report…that we teach that one should do evil that good may come of it. In fact such people are justly condemned.’ In the letters to the Romans, particularly after Chapter 1, Paul restates the importance of moral laws. In Romans 1:25-29, Paul talks about the Romans, who did not believe in the one, true God. Indeed, we do know the Romans of this period were involved in polytheism and experimental in their sexual practices, to say the least. What is written in Romans 1:25-29 is not an intentional condemnation of the Gay Community, but rather a warning about loose morals and practices, which can lead to disease and social corruptibility. Paul is saying that if one follows a hedonistic lifestyle, without moral codes of conduct, one will endure physical and mental anguish. This is not anything we do not know to be true in the twenty-first century. We have seen how sexually transmitted diseases can destroy lives if unhealthy behaviours are not curbed through responsible practices. This caution can be extrapolated to all activities in the physical world when we consider how overindulging in food, alcohol, or even wealth accumulation, can cause people to become physically and or mentally unwell.
Ultimately, Paul needed to mesh together the necessity of the Jewish Law and the concept of grace given to all through Jesus’ sacrifice. This necessity, as shown here in a brief commentary, came from a need for diplomacy in order to maintain a tenuous position within the seminal Jewish and Gentile Christian communities. It is important to look at Paul in this light, since he is considered the reason for Christianity being what it is at the early part of the twenty-first century. Protestant reformers Calvin and Luther saw Paul’s letters as evidence for why dogma is damaging to Jesus’ message—love of God, above all else. If we take the sayings in the Gospel of Thomas as the only real intentions of Jesus, we can understand how Paul’s letters could be damaging to the truth Jesus wanted the world to embrace. The Gospel of Thomas is free of narrative or political influences—this makes it reliable. For the seeker, it is important to examine these things personally. It is difficult to do this in the context of these commentaries, beyond what is absolutely necessary to illustrate a point. In this instance, we see that words, when put into context, suddenly have layers of new meaning, disarming seemingly toxic verses.
The Old Testament makes specific judgements about sexuality, directed towards men (Leviticus 18:22). This is because the men who wrote the texts were apparently heterosexual and, as with the story of Onan, concerned about the expansion of their community. They had no understanding of the damage they were incurring, because of their selective observations of the physical world, telling them their proclamation was correct. Yeshua came to show us that our reference point (this world) is a flawed and fractured mirror. This world is of its own nature, encompassing cause and effect. Humans are of their own separate nature—this is the soul. Thomas 22 reveals that people who vilify others because of their sexual orientation are without understanding. Gender is not who we are. If we are not man or woman, then whom we take as our life partner, for example, cannot be determined by gender. To do so destroys the truth of the kingdom, that is, we are not the flesh—we are a soul.
In Thomas 22, just as in other sayings in this gospel, Jesus speaks to our generation. He knew His contemporaries were not capable of understanding or perceiving the true nature of the kingdom. The disciples’ perception of a kingdom was built of stones, a temple of worship, on a mount. When they heard Yeshua speak the word ‘live’ they thought of it as our physical life on this planet, a manifestation our senses could experience and our eyes could describe. This is what most disciples would have understood as the kingdom—something tangible. When Jesus spoke of rebuilding the temple in three days, He alluded to His resurrection in Spirit. This is the thing worthy of worship. This is the thing worthy of understanding—the truth of the kingdom, within us.
Thomas 22 has a correlation to the Buddhist text Heart of Wisdom by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (Tharpa Publications 2001). Gyatso describes the way we should perceive all objects so their form becomes a construct of the mind within this realm. Since this realm is an illusion of reality, the conclusion is obvious. In perceiving all physical matter in this way, we awaken the understanding that all things are actually only a perception of what they truly are. Put simply, if one breaks down any material to its smallest components (atoms) and then goes beyond this, one is left with nothing of substance. This practice is beneficial as it opens the inner eye to the truth of this realm. It reflects the wisdom of the Buddha, who extended a bridge out from this realm, to meet the one Yeshua extended from the realm of the Spirit.
Significantly, in Thomas 22, Yeshua emphasises the point about the physical body. When we recognise the flesh as something which clothes the soul, the thing that we cannot point to, then we are set free. A baby is naïve to its nature as a mortal creature of physical substance. A baby has no notion of being unworthy of a patriarchal god, due to inherent failings, because it has not been taught this misinformation. Only the soul on its way to becoming a Spirit is perfect. The soul is what we really are. As we see here, the body and the world it exists in can never be perfect, unlike the soul, which is from the Father’s Light. As a baby grows, it becomes tainted by the world, discovers it is fallible and can suffer and incur injury, both physical and emotional. Jesus asks, what if we could maintain that naivety? How much easier would it be to know our true selves if we had not been deceived by our society and environment?
What if we could see the genders as necessary vehicles for continuing the reproduction of bodies? A manifestation of the physical world and its mechanisms of evolution. Yeshua tells us that we are not male or female. We are in fact a soul, which can be both or neither. When we replace our perception of what a hand is, or what a foot is, and what controls these, then we are open to the nature of the Spirit. When we can think of the image we see in the mirror as a manifestation of physical phenomenon and see past it to the true self, then we enter the kingdom, the realm of consciousness.
How do we make the outer like the inner and the inner like the outer? We can start by recognising that our bodies, and the physical world, break down to elements, which are composed of atoms. Past this, what can exist? If we had to point to ourselves, where do we point? The things we might point to are a conglomeration of cells, but they are not the conscious us—aware of this disparity.
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